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I am blessed with a plethora of mentors and sincerely caring friends. Over the years, I have received much wise counsel and targeted advice. However, the oddest came from a former graduate school faculty member who, in frustration with my waffling over a thesis topic, exclaimed, “Woman! Sell yourself!” He was encouraging me to make my thesis work for me – to tackle a topic that would take advantage of what I loved to do and could help me catapult that through the knowledge I would gain in my thesis research.

In recent months I have heard this exclamation in my head many times as I struggle to know how to spread the word about my business. My biggest bold first step was to proceed with printing business cards. The day I picked them up, it was all so real. True confession – I have only handed out a dozen of them because frankly, they are not an effective marketing tool. But seeing my name in print as a business felt pretty great.

It took me three weeks to build my simple Web site because I did not know how to do it. I bought a couple of books and Go Daddy and WordPress guided me to a good, solid, simple site. That site is the best marketing tool I have developed – it is flexible and easy to manage and is always the call to action in all that I produce. It really is very basic, but it’s been the best tool I have developed as I started to puzzle through the marketing process.  

For those of you, who like me, are pretty clueless on Web site development, please consider How to Build a Website with Wordpress… Fast by Kent Mauresmo (on Amazon for less than $8). This book was easy to understand and helped me get my site up and running with relative ease for a newbie.

I also became reengaged and reinvented myself in social media. I took a series of online courses on each tool (set up your Hootsuite account for easy management of the major social tools and you can also take free Podium courses through Hootsuite) and moved Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, AboutMe, Quora and others to a more professional level. While Facebook and Pinterest remain my personal social media, the others are strictly intended to advance my business. How I write for each varies because each has different audiences and demands different points of view. There are some I am trying to master (Instagram) and others I just kind of gave up on (Snapchat). I won’t be the queen of social media, but I am determined to take advantage of its fabulous marketing potential. Unquestionably LinkedIn has been my successful tool in reaching others.

And yes, I created this blog. I am proud that many have sent me notes about it. Many of us want to make this leap, and I hope that this blog is helping some of you think about how to make it happen. While a blog keeps your Web site fresh, it also gives you an open door to other like-minded professionals who share their comments with you and give you great new ideas for growing your business or simply staying inspired.

Writing articles for key blogs and trade publications has become a way of life as well. Any way I can demonstrate my expertise is helpful and content is often in demand and outlets are open to well-written and instructional articles. Be sure to take advantage of LinkedIn’s Posts opportunity. You can keep a running directory of your blog posts and articles and the visibility for each increases.

Speaking events are never turned down. I have flown four hours for a one-hour presentation, driven on Saturday mornings to remote areas of California and have engaged in Skype sessions whenever I get asked. I try to use these as a way to both demonstrate my knowledge and also make others aware that I am in a new business. I seem to under-bill for my presentations. I spent a lot of time personalizing so each is memorable. I don’t seem to get paid for all the time invested- hoping that the exposure will create that one or two great contacts that become clients in time.

I will not rely on traditional media and will always be seeking the newest and latest bloggers and interactive media. I want to work with progressive and future-looking clients and will work hard to promote myself in media in which they engage. Unfortunately, traditional media now has disappointing demographics, and I gravitate to where the eyes are – interactive media and intelligent, thoughtful bloggers who prove their credibility in their writing.

I also started a monthly e-mail. I am trying to include an infographic that can be saved or used. I will not spam, but try to be topically relevant and send articles and tools and not just promotional material. Using MailChimp, you can easily see how much your e-mails are being read. Proud to say I am ranging in the 60-92% open rates. Much better than the average 16%. Thank you e-mail friends!

And the last marketing tip for a new business that I have: drink a lot of coffee, or in my case, hot chai lattes at Starbucks. Getting out of the house and meeting fellow consultants keeps me fresh, sane and creative. I have received several clients from these meetings as others get word of projects that they might not be able to fulfill, but that I can. It’s great to have friends!

I never thought that awkward day where I was instructed to “Sell myself,” would haunt me 20 years later. But, here I am, writing for you (and for me – it is fun), selling myself!

Life Without Gravity

A blog chronicling the up's and down's, trials and tribulations, fear and happiness of moving your life from the expected 9-to-5 job to a life of consulting. While it is a big and often scary decision, it is a time of discovery, rejuvenation and introspection that will help you remember who you are and who you were supposed to be. It's a wonderful journey.

Sell Yourself!

The Awkward Art of Self Promotion